Bird watching is a fantastic activity for preschoolers to get involved in. Through observing birds and learning about them they get a connection to nature and country; learn research skills; develop socialization with their peers and so many other benefits.
I spoke with an Early Childhood teacher with 25 years of experience and got some great ideas for bird watching activities for preschoolers. Keep reading to discover some super-fun ways you can get preschoolers into bird watching.
1. Research Birds In Your Local Area
A great way to start is by getting the children involved in researching birds. Use books or look online for what types of birds can be found in your local area.
You could start by putting up a picture of a particular bird and asking the children what they already know about that bird. You can list their answers beside the picture and once you have a few answers, you can then get them all involved in some research to find out more about that bird.
2. Look For Birds In The Garden
Print out a list of the birds you discover through your research with pictures and head out into the garden to look and see if you can find them.
You may choose to give all the children their own list so they can tick off which birds they see, or you might just have one list for a teacher or adult to carry.
If the children find any birds, you can tick them off the list. You can even look for signs of birds, such as feathers, nests, or droppings. You might also get the children to listen out for bird calls.
3. Go On An Excursion
This is where you take your bird watch further afield. Organize an excursion to a local park or garden and take the kids out to find birds there.
Again, they can look for all signs of birds and listen out for bird calls too. Make sure the children each have their own pair of binoculars to help build the excitement of looking for the birds.
4. Join In A Backyard Bird Count
This can be a really fun activity for preschoolers. Encourage them to join in on a backyard bird count.
National Bird Week here in Australia takes place from Monday, October 18 to Sunday, October 24th, 2021. During the week you can join in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count by Birdlife Australia. All you have to do is count as many times as you like during the week for a 20-minute period each time.
Preschool children will get so excited about being part of something like this. They can even see how many birds they can count at home with their families in their own backyards.
5. Draw Some Birds
Preschoolers love to draw and paint. Once they have seen some birds in the garden of the Preschool, or at home, you can get them to draw some.
This can be as simple as a basic bird shape. Do a search for “bird observation drawing preschool” on Pinterest or Google and you will find many ideas on how to do this.
You can use a printed picture of the bird for the child to reference, use puppets, or even figurines. The children can even use the feathers they have found to decorate their artwork. However you do it, they will have loads of fun with this.
6. Make A Bird Out Of Clay
The kids can get their hands dirty with this one! Using representations of the birds they found during your garden bird watch, get the kids to make one out of clay.
Talk to the children about the features of the bird. Ask them what they remember about the bird, ie. Did it have a head? Did it have a tail? Did it have wings?
This is where the kids can use the feathers they found to decorate their clay birds also.
7. Watch Videos About Birds
Videos are a fun way for preschoolers to watch and learn about birds. These can be YouTube videos or any DVDs you might have already.
You can theme this activity around a specific behavior of birds, for example, what they eat. Ask them questions about what they think birds might eat and then watch some video footage of birds that eat fish, seeds, or anything else.
8. Make A Bird Feeder
Disclaimer – here at Birdwatch World I do not support the feeding of wild birds. Feeding wild birds can lead to malnutrition, negative behavioral changes, imbalances in species populations, and other unfavorable occurrences. I do however respect your decision to feed them if you decide to do so.
A fantastic and fun way to not only get the children involved in some hands-on craft but also to get them watching for birds that come to their bird feeder.
Firstly you want to make sure you research the diets of local birdlife to find out what they can safely eat.
The quickest and easiest way to make a bird feeder with preschoolers is to use Pinecones. You can source these locally if you have Pine Trees, or purchase them online. Of course, you want pinecones that have opened up so that you can get the seeds into the crevices for the birds to peck out.
You can use Peanut Butter to get the seed to stick to the pinecone. Peanut Butter is safe for birds to eat.
Preschool Inspirations has a great instructional post about making pinecone bird feeders with kids. You can read that post here.
9. Listen For Bird Calls
Listening to bird calls is a super-fun outdoor activity a preschooler will love.
This can be as simple as heading outside with them and getting them to listen for how many different birds calls they can hear. You can then get them to see if they can find the birds that are making the sounds.
If you want to take this further as an inside activity, you may even find some bird calls on YouTube or online somewhere (birdsinbackyards.net has a great Top 40 list of Australian bird calls). You could make a game out of it and see if they can guess which bird is making the sound.